One step at a time

view from the top I can’t say I have really appreciated the value and importance of doing things one step at a time so that I can complete something properly. Yes, I have broken things down and worked on bits and isn’t that what I do for my students with the Weekly Tasks Sheet because they like it better that way? I break bigger tasks down so that each week they know what to do so they can complete a packed assessment plan or a demanding project. I have seen what they can do with that. I can see that the work is better and I can see, that inspite of my best efforts , there are always a few who leave it until the last minute. When you break things into small steps then those who try and complete it quickly in a short time show up quite clearly. They can see it too and so every time you do that, you gain more students who will put the time in. In the last Christmas holidays I learnt about the Japanese notion of Kai Zen – completing something in tiny steps. I applied it to a mountain of sewing projects I had and could not believe how they were being completed and looked beautiful. I had thought each step out. I had applied myself for each step. It meant each step had more value than if I had broken it down into steps and just done it. There is a difference. Start here, go to that, do this bit, do that bit. It is not the same as starting, thinking that start up well and then, as you are working on that knowing what the next step is. You then focus on the next step. It is about focus, mindfulness, positive mindset and the whole project is much better thought out. I am using this approach to complete a video for Flipped Learning. I enjoyed finding the pictures, then the videos. I realised as I was setting them up in the timeline of my video programme I could use Elevator App to do some transitioning in the video. I have yet to do that, but I’ll do that one film clip at a time. 100% focus. I have  to decide as well  about whether I use voice overs or music or both. As you work in a Kai Zen way you appreciate each element of a project and that it has its own value. You then also understand the value of chunking work, breaking assignments down and packaging work in a way so that the elements of a task have their own vital importance as you build a whole.

What is a teacher?

Heather MacKillop made this video in 2011 and it has only had 13 views. Does that mean she doesn’t have a real message? Does it mean what she thinks doesn’t have value? People can put things up on YouTube and get millions of hits. Are their thoughts more important and helpful than Heather MacKillop’s? I watched this video and could see some really valuable messages and lessons for us as teachers. What is a teacher in the 21st century? I think her point that we are shaping students as they shape us is crucial to who we are as teachers in 2015. Students are not just beings to be plugged into a port and we download information into them. We are shaping them. We are trail blazers but we also need to be genuine and authentic in our relationships with students so we can show them the way, share with them and create prooductive relationships with them. teachers One of the most important aspects of this video is how Heather MacKillop has gathered together so many media images of teachers and stuck thoughts about teachers and then made the bold statement in the picture: They will never make a movie about a teacher that made a teacher smile on the worst day of their grade 7 year. They will never write a book about a teacher who made a student go from a C- to a C+. . Teachers can make a difference in small, profound ways. With the advent of technology we can give and gain feedback far more easily. Everyone has a voice and so each student now can represent themselves and can be built up and moved forward. This video poses some interesting ideas worth discussing and clarifying . I was looking at the teacher and classroom images. Is that how I want teachers and classes represented in media? No. A good reason for us all to be out there representing our profession as it truly is. We are not our stereotypes nor our ancestors.

How to give a great lesson

This PowToon presentation gives you food for thought about how to organise content for a classroom. The students we teach now are visual.They do learn more quickly and better with animated and visual presentations. They do learn more efficiently if you keep the board clear except for two or three things and then move on. I have also used PowToon with students and they really like it. I didn’t use it last year because we were looking at other animation software to use in class. PowToon was easy for them to use and they produced some really good assignments with the content we were learning. Using a more visual approach needs rethinking and making the most of a visual approach need practice. Using a graphic organiser like the one I put up in my last post helps you to rethink materials and resources for lessons. This video has reminded me to think about something else again. It’s how you start a lesson. The first 5 minutes are critical. Once you have their attention by using technology, it rarely wanders off in my experience but you have to get those first 5 minutes right. I am going to focus on improving that and this video demonstrates when you keep the conversation going, you move the information and you build a narrative, you can gain attention quite easily and then deliver worthwhile content. I could do worse than decontruct this video to see how I could improve my presntation skills in a lesson.

The flipped classroom

We are going to work on flipping our classrooms as a school this year. We are a busy school with good access to technology and resources. Why wouldn’t you want to make the best of your teaching time and technology? Flipping the classroom is a concept which can make better use of the resources you have, including human resources. It is not just something which you can do. You have to work through the steps. This video alerts you to the things students need to know as your transition to a flipped classroom. It also alerts you, as a teacher, to the things you need to pay attention to. This week’s posts will be dedicated to the flipped classroom because it is new to us and luckily old hands have shared their ideas and resources online so we can benefit and build on them. So where do you start?

1. Work out what students ought to be able to do by themselves and where they would need your help in class.
2. Encourage them to take notes and write their questions and difficulties down.
3. Establish a content library .

The content library is critical. Where will it be? How will students access it? This is discovery learning with technology. The follow up in class needs to then look at how each student can be learning from what you have provided. It is focussing on making the most of you as a teacher to teach all the students in your class so that your class time is interactive and focussed more on explicit learning.